I played at Walton Heath in a society on 13th April 2010, we had 18 holes on the Old Course in the morning and played 14 holes on the New Course in the afternoon. First impressions of the club as a whole are good, they have a lovely clubhouse which houses much memorabilia from the many events staged at the club, including the 1981 Ryder Cup, and this provides some interesting background to the club and its history. The changing room facilities are excellent as is the pro shop and the practice putting green.
The Old Course starts off with a 200+ yard par 3 (unfortunately we played off the club tees and not the whites) which is a challenging start and quite unique, following this hole you cross a fairly busy road to play the rest of the course and it is unusual to have a course which is so detached from its clubhouse but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different! The Old Course fairways were generally in very good condition and nearly every hole had heather lining the rough, it was fairly sporadic in places but is amazing how my ball managed to find it every time I strayed off the fairways! Bunkering is good and there are many pot bunkers to navigate around the course, the quality of sand was also good and certainly gave you confidence in striking through the sand before the ball. One thing I did notice on several occassions was the quality of the rough itself was not great, and there were many little hollows and holes which usually prevented you from making any sort of strike on the ball which can be very frustrating - yes you shouldn't be hitting it in the rough in the first place but everyone does and I just thought it was too penal and difficult at times. Greens were overall ok, they were pretty damp in the morning but soon firmed up and were generally pretty true, the first few holes had fairly flat greens but after that we experienced greens with many undulations and some evil pin positions which provided a good challenge.
Walton Heath in general is very flat and I don’t recall many real slopes or hills, as a consequence the wind can whip up and we played many holes into the wind, I don’t know whether wind is a regular feature at Walton Heath but there aren’t many trees lining the fairways to shield you from it but that does present a good challenge for the skilled golfer.
The New Course is significantly shorter than the Old Course with several par 4’s that can be driven, in some cases with a fairway wood, but it provides a different challenge to the Old Course and can lull you into a false sense of security. The heather on each hole is just as severe and difficult to play from and the greens are no less undulating. A previous reviewer mentioned it had a very inland links feel to it and I completely agree, the wind was fairly strong at times and the hardness of the ground certainly promoted the type of knockdown shots you would use at a classic links course, and chip and runs around the green are a must (although it took me half a round to realise this…)
My own comment on Walton Heath, and this is only my opinion, is there are not many ‘standout’ holes. It is a little repetitive at times and after the days golf I really struggled to remember many of the hole layouts. This is by no means a criticism of the place as I thought it was a lovely club with some very nice holes, but having recently played St. George's Hill and Queenwood I was left a little disappointed overall especially with some of the holes seeming very ordinary indeed (the 1st on New Course is a good example). However, to counter my argument above I would very much like to play Walton Heath again in the height of summer when the course (and greens) are truly at their best so I can experience the courses in all their glory.
Date: April 13, 2010